From: Robert Schneider (email@example.com)
Date: Mon Dec 30 2002 - 16:56:23 EST
Dear colleagues, the exchange between Jon Clarke and me below was intended
for the whole group. Although Jon wrote "oh well, never mind," I'll take it
that he would be happy for the list to read and comment on our exchange.
Please scroll down to the last note and read up. Perhaps others would like
Jon, I entirely agree with the sentiments you offered in your latest
----- Original Message -----
From: "jdac" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Robert Schneider" <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, December 30, 2002 4:39 PM
Subject: Re: Does the Bible teach a flat earth?
> Hi Robert
> I had intended this for the whole group, oh well, never mind.
> I think the community interpretation is a very important aspect. The
> must be open the Holy Spirit's insight given to all members of that
> while recongising the special knowledge and abilities of some. The
> itself must also be open to the possibility that the community and its
> interpretive tradition may be wrong and take correct from individuals with
> insights. Individuals will also have to be aware that their own ideas
> subject to peer review. Humility on both levels.
> Robert Schneider wrote:
> > Hi Jon,
> > Thanks for raising this question. It's a rather complex one, but
> > start a conversation with a few thoughts that immediately come to mind.
> > First, I wonder if one should make a distinction between the "plain
> > and the "plain sense." They are not exactly the same. The term "plain
> > sense" was used, I believe, in medieval exegesis to denote the literal
> > historical sense, which yielded to a reading of the text. In addition
> > was the various "spiritual senses" (allegorical, moral, mystical). The
> > meaning of a text was deemed to be multivalent, and the various
> > senses usually were presented to scholars through commentaries and to
> > ordinary faithful through sermons--the latter a necessity for a
> > in which only a very few could read.
> > With the Reformation the Bible could be opened to a wider group of
> > believers because now the ability to read was becoming widespread.
> > the rush to produce translations in vernaculars. The language of the
> > vernacular version was the result of careful thought among the Reformer
> > translators such as Luther and Tyndale; the latter, as you probably
> > wanted to produce a faithful version that "could be read by any
> > The notion that understanding of the text was available to any believer
> > mainly possible because so many more could now read. Christianity had a
> > literate population now that could see and now merely hear the words of
> > Scripture, which means that they could linger with them.
> > I doubt I've said anything new to you, but I wanted to lay this out
> > address the problem: how to avoid an inappropriate literalism while
> > preserving an important principle. Perhaps one solution lays in the
> > Calvinist tradition that the locus of interpretation of Scripture is in
> > congregation and not simply in the individual believer. While each
> > may gain his or her inspired insights and rational/ intellectual
> > interpretations of the Bible, it is the congregation in conversation
> > the text that stands a better chance of drawing meanings from a variety
> > perspectives. It's the principle that stands behind any Bible study
> > in which there is an openness to different hermeneutical approaches.
> > problem arises when only one hermeneutic is allowed into the
> > or even considered.
> > In addition, as you know well, the Reformation did not put an end to
> > biblical scholarship by the learned, and they ought to play an important
> > role in the process I just described. The ideal Bible study is one I
> > participated in for 2 years before retiring from Berea College: a
> > faculty-staff group that went through Mark pericope by pericope, led by
> > Markan scholar. He and I could read the text in Greek, some of the
> > were not at all trained in biblical studies; yet everyone contributed
> > understandings. The result was that we all were enriched by the
> > contributions of everyone and came to experience agape in action.
> > These are my preliminary thoughts. I don't think they solve the
> > they address. I'd be interested in your comments.
> > Bob
> > PS: one final thought. Even among literalists allegory is alive and
> > as I have noted from sermons by fundamentalist TV evangelists and
> > interpretations of biblical texts by students. A good example of the
> > is a student who told me that after pondering the parable of the Good
> > Samaritan he thought it was about Christ (the Samaritan) coming to
> > us from our sins. His interpretation was a good example of how we might
> > take a story out of context and miss its literal meaning, while coming
> > with an interpretation that might be fruitful in personal devotions.
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "jdac" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > To: "Robert Schneider" <email@example.com>
> > Sent: Monday, December 30, 2002 6:47 AM
> > Subject: Re: Does the Bible teach a flat earth?
> > > Hi Rob
> > >
> > > If I may pick up on one particular point you made in addition to some
> > helpful
> > > insights into the nature of poetic genre.
> > >
> > > You wrote:
> > >
> > > > I believe it was Northrup Frye who noted that for the early
> > > > community up to the reformation, the Bible was a metaphorical
> > >
> > > Given the post reformation theme that the plain meaning of Scripture
> > evident
> > > to the unlearned this implies a possible major flaw in the whole
> > Reformation
> > > approach to Scripture. The flaw being the danger of in appropriate
> > literalism.
> > > If so, how do we avoid this flaw and and still keep the experientially
> > valuable
> > > reformation approach where scripture was open to all, not just an
> > >
> > > Jon
> > >
> > >
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